Tag Archives: United Kingdom

New appeal to 2000 disappearance of Dubai princess – UK.

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The British broadcaster reported Thursday the 2018 letter now under UK police review had been sent by Latifa, and had appealed to them to re-investigate the disappearance of her sister.

British police said Thursday they were reviewing a recently received letter as part of an investigation into the disappearance of the ruler of Dubai’s daughter in Britain 21 years ago.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary said it was examining the letter, which is dated February 2018, as it reviews earlier probes of Sheikha Shamsa’s disappearance from the English city of Cambridge in 2000.

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The latest police probe follows a British court ruling last year that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, orchestrated her forcible return home.

The High Court decision also found Shamsa’s younger sister Sheikha Latifa, the emir’s daughter from a later marriage, had suffered a similar fate after being detained at sea by Indian special forces and forcibly returned to Dubai in 2018.

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Her case prompted renewed concern this month after the BBC published video footage said to have been shot by Latifa claiming she was being held captive and feared for her life.

The British broadcaster reported Thursday the 2018 letter now under UK police review had been sent by Latifa, and had appealed to them to re-investigate the disappearance of her sister.

“The review into the disappearance of Princess Shamsa continues,” Cambridgeshire Constabulary said in a statement to AFP, describing the matter as “very complex and serious”.

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“We can confirm officers have recently received a letter, dated February 2018, in relation to this case which will be looked at as part of the ongoing review.”

The police force added it was also examining the contents of the recent BBC documentary “to identify whether it includes anything of significance to our case”.

The programme prompted the UN Human Rights Office to ask the UAE for evidence that 35-year-old Latifa, who has not been seen in public since a foiled attempt to escape from the emirate in March 2018, is alive.

The royal family of Dubai, one of the seven emirates, subsequently insisted Latifa was being “cared for at home”.

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Cambridgeshire Constabulary investigated Shamsa’s 2000 disappearance, when she was 19, but decided there was insufficient evidence to take any further action.

A review in 2017 came to a similar conclusion, but the force launched a renewed probe last March following the High Court ruling.

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#Newsworthy

Prince Harry to lose all Honorary titles.

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Prince Harry, a former soldier, holds several honorary military titles, as well as Commonwealth appointments and some other patronages.

Britain’s Prince Harry will relinquish his honorary military appointments and patronages after confirming to Queen Elizabeth II that he and his wife Meghan Markle will not return as working royals, Buckingham Palace announced Friday.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are formally known, rocked the British monarchy when they quit frontline royal duties a year ago.

They have since embarked on a new life involving several commercial ventures in the United States and now live in California.

Under the initial terms of their departure thrashed out at an emergency summit with the queen in early 2020, Harry had agreed to review the decision a year on.

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“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

File Photo: Prince Harry and wife, Meghan Markle | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

“The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.

“The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family.”

Prince Harry, a former soldier, holds several honorary military titles, as well as Commonwealth appointments and some other patronages.

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Meghan was also handed several honorary roles after she wed Harry in a fairytale ceremony at Windsor Castle in May, 2018.

The couple, who are expecting their second child, are poised to give an “intimate” interview about their lives with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey.

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#Newsworthy

Uber drivers’ entitled to worker’s right – Top British Court rules.

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Uber insisted that the drivers were self-employed since they choose their own hours and place of work, and often find passengers through rival apps.

Britain’s top court on Friday ruled that ride-hailing giant Uber’s drivers are entitled to workers’ rights, in a judgement with huge implications for the “gig economy”.

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The Supreme Court ruling that the drivers were employees followed a years-long legal battle with the Silicon Valley taxi and delivery company.

“This has been a gruelling four-year legal battle for our members — but it’s ended in a historic win,” said Mick Rix, from the GMB trade union.

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“The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of three previous courts, backing up what GMB has said all along; Uber drivers are workers and entitled to breaks, holiday pay and minimum wage,” he added.

Uber said it respected the court ruling.

Lower courts ruled in 2016, 2017 and 2018 in favour of a group of 20 Uber drivers who argue they were entitled to employee status given the length of time they had been working through the Uber app, and the way that the company oversaw their work.

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Uber insisted that the drivers were self-employed since they choose their own hours and place of work, and often find passengers through rival apps.

The complainants can now ask an employment tribunal for compensation, and it could trigger further-reaching changes affecting all ride-hailing drivers.

“GMB will now consult with our Uber driver members over their forthcoming compensation claim,” said Rix.

The ruling could equally affect other online platforms behind the so-called gig economy in Britain — people doing short-term work without formal contracts, or working without guaranteed hours.

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Couriers for the Deliveroo food app are currently fighting in the Court of Appeal in London for the right to collective bargaining.

Uber claimed that it has changed the way it works since the legal action began.

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Drivers can now choose when and where they drive and can also access free health insurance as well as compensation for parental leave, it said.

Joint fund
Ahead of the court ruling, Uber vowed to increase protection for drivers while keeping them self-employed.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi on Monday presented a series of promises to European governments and trade unions.

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He said the aim was to offer a transparent and fair pay structure, and more benefits to drivers.

Uber is calling for companies in the sector to form a joint fund that would allow drivers who work for different apps to be able to access protections and benefits such as paid holidays.

Uber plans to replicate in Europe proposals it first made in California, after a court in the US state ordered the platform to classify its tens of thousands of drivers as employees.

But voters in November then backed Proposition 22, a measure designed by Uber and other gig companies that would mean drivers remained independent contractors while receiving some benefits.

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Friday’s decision is not expected to affect Uber’s right to operate in London, which has been subject to a separate dispute.

The platform last September regained the right in London for 18 months, after a court overruled a decision by city authorities to suspend its licence due to concerns over passenger security.

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#Newsworthy

Top UK court ‘inflcict’ Nigeria’s decision on Shell.

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The widows of four Nigerian activists executed by the military regime of General Sani Abacha in the 1990s have accused Shell of complicity in their deaths.

Britain’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday that more than 40,000 people in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria can make pollution claims against Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell in English courts.

The ruling overturned a 2017 decision against the Ogale and Bille communities, who brought legal claims for clean-up and compensation following decades of repeated spills in the oil-rich region.

The claimants have argued for five years that their case against Shell and its subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), should be heard in London because they could not expect justice in a Nigerian court.

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The UK decision comes two weeks after a court in the Netherlands ordered Shell to compensate Nigerian farmers for oil spills on land in two villages in the Niger Delta after 13 years of legal battles.

In their judgment, five judges at Britain’s highest court said the previous decision by the lower Court of Appeal was a “material error of law” and focused too narrowly on the relationship between Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary.

Shell had argued it could not be held legally responsible for the pollution in the region in southern Nigeria and so the cases should not be heard in England.

Watershed moment’
“This Supreme Court judgment gives real hope to the people of Ogale and Bille who have been asking Shell to clean up their oil for years,” said Daniel Leader, from London law firm Leigh Day, which represents the claimants.

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He said he hoped the decision would lead to action from Shell and called the ruling a “watershed moment” to bring multinational companies to account.

In this file photo taken on September 30, 2020 Logos are pictured at a Shell petrol station in Etlham, southeast London. – Royal Dutch Shell dived into a net loss of $21.7 billion in 2020, the oil giant announced on February 4, 2021 as the coronavirus pandemic slashed global energy demand. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

“Increasingly impoverished communities are seeking to hold powerful corporate actors to account and this judgment will significantly increase their ability to do so,” he added.

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Shell called the ruling “disappointing” and attributed the spills in the Niger Delta to criminal activity.

“The spills at issue happened in communities that are heavily impacted by oil theft, illegal oil refining, and the sabotage of pipelines,” it said in a statement.

“Regardless of the cause of a spill, SPDC cleans up and remediates.”

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The Ogale and Bille villagers say they have suffered systematic and ongoing oil pollution for decades because of Shell’s operations in Nigeria, including the pollution of drinking water.

In 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme said spills in the Niger Delta would take 30 years to clean up.

Shell has faced other legal action linked to its operations in Nigeria in Dutch court.

The widows of four Nigerian activists executed by the military regime of General Sani Abacha in the 1990s have accused Shell of complicity in their deaths.

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The men were hanged in 1995 alongside Ken Saro-Wiwa, who campaigned against Shell activities in the Ogoniland area of the delta because of health and environmental impacts.

Shell also faces a landmark legal bid to force it to meet emissions targets in the Paris climate accords, brought by several environmental groups in the Netherlands led by Friends of the Earth in 2019.

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#Newsworthy

Family of late British-Nigerian sues UK’s Transport agency.

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The case has now adjourned to return for trial at a later date.

The family of a British-Nigerian Bernard Ovu is suing UK’s London Underground Limited for negligence before the death of the IT expert.

Daily Mail reports that Bernard died at a Tube station where he laid undiscovered for more than six hours. The family is asking for more than £300,000 from the transport line.

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The 35-year-old was trapped in a stairwell at Canning Town station for nearly an hour before tripping down concrete steps leading off the escape bridge and suffering a catastrophic head injury, his family said.

Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Ovu grew up in Nigeria before he moved to London in 2001 to live with his aunt and uncle.

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He fell before 3am on January 22, 2017, after straying into a staff-only area on his way home from a late-night wedding in Rotherhithe, south-east London.

Bernard’s mother Roselyn Aigbibo Ovu, has now launched a £300,000 damages claim against London Underground Ltd and accused the company of failing to ensure safe staffing levels that led to his stay in the station was detected before it was too late.

London Underground Ltd, however, denied the blame and claimed Ovu was ‘intoxicated’ and ‘trespassing’ in a restricted area when he he died.

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Their lawyers claim a toxicology report found that Ovu’s blood alcohol level was twice the driving limit, and also showed up traces of cannabis and cocaine.

His family suit said Ovu became ‘trapped’ in the staff-only area of the station after emergency gates through which he had passed were mistakenly closed, preventing him returning safely to the station platforms.

He ended up ‘trapped for a 50-minute period behind the emergency gates on a bitterly cold morning, before falling down stairs and suffering fatal injuries,’ the lawyers add.

Ovu was captured on CCTV at the top of the staircase leading down to the DLR platform at around 2.47am, and just two minutes later he clattered down the steps suffering fatal head injuries. His body was discovered at 8.45am – six hours after his fall.

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Barrister Guy Watkins, for London Underground, said Mr Ovu was ‘heavily intoxicated’ when he left the wedding venue, and his blood alcohol level was twice the driving limit.

Toxicology reports also showed up traces of cannabis and cocaine, the barrister stated.

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Ovu had been ‘trespassing in a non-public area’ at the time and was “behaving erratically and was obviously unsteady on his feet,” Watkins claimed.

He had earlier tried to open the glass automatic doors on the Jubilee Line at Canada Water station and attempted to open a fire door on the platform, the barrister said.

Their lawyers also dispute that Ovu was owed any legal duty of care at the time, since he was trespassing in a restricted area. The case has now adjourned to return for trial at a later date.

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The first stage of the trial will focus on the ‘preliminary issue’ of whether or not that duty of care existed.

An inquest in November 2017 heard that the sole member of staff on duty, on January 22, failed to check when Ovu set off an alarm by accidentally going through an emergency door.

The inquest heard that safety procedures were ‘inconsistent and unclear’.

“The fall itself was due to Bernard’s physical state rather than environmental factors,” the inquest said. “Once the fall had occurred, it is unlikely that Bernard’s death could have been prevented.”

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In a narrative verdict, a jury at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court found: ‘Processes that were known in the event of an emergency door trigger were not followed.

Had this process been carried out, it is possible that Bernard may have been located earlier.’

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#Newsworthy

Boris Johnson ‘conditions’ Scotland on new voting

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Recent polls have shown consistent support for independence, boosted by rows between London and the devolved governments over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Another Scottish independence referendum should not take place for a generation, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday, as Scotland’s leader renewed calls for a fresh vote in the wake of Brexit.

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“Referendums in my experience, direct experience, in this country are not particularly jolly events,” the prime minister told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“They don’t have a notably unifying force in the national mood, they should be only once in a generation.”

Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom in 2014.

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Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon at the time called it a once-in-a-generation vote, but now argues that Britain’s departure from the European Union, which a majority of Scots opposed, has changed the game.

“For too long, successive UK governments have taken Scotland in the wrong direction, culminating in Brexit. It’s no wonder so many people in Scotland have had enough,” she wrote on her party’s website on Saturday.

“We didn’t want to leave and we hope to join you again soon as an equal partner,” she added, in a message to the EU.

Johnson has ruled out holding another vote, but Sturgeon will likely claim a mandate and heap pressure on the prime minister should her party perform well in upcoming local elections.

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When asked why it was fair to hold a referendum on EU membership but not another on Scottish independence, Johnson told Marr: “The difference is we had a (European) referendum in 1975 and we then had another one in 2016.

“That seems to be about the right sort of gap.”

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#Newsworthy

Just in: Brexit trade deal successful on ‘final trial’

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The EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will provide a briefing on the EU-UK negotiations, the spokesman said.

The United Kingdom and European Union have agreed on a post-Brexit trade deal after months of torturous negotiations, averting the prospect of a chaotic and acrimonious divorce at the end of this year.

The announcement on Thursday came just one week before the UK exits the EU’s single market and customs union on December 31.

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“The deal is done,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, as he posted a photo of himself with both thumbs raised in celebration.

Delivering a televised address, Johnson hailed striking what he called “the biggest trade deal yet”, adding that Britain had taken back control of its laws, borders, and fishing waters.

“We have completed the biggest trade deal yet, worth 660 billion pounds a year, a comprehensive Canada-style free trade deal between the UK and the EU,” he said.

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His comments came after a Downing Street source said the agreement was “fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK”.

“We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU,” the source said.

“We have delivered this great deal for the entire United Kingdom in record time, and under extremely challenging conditions, which protects the integrity of our internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it.”

EU and British negotiators were up all night working on the deal, reportedly fuelled by takeaway pizzas, as they hashed out final details at the Berlaymont in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Commission.

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Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, spoke several times by phone.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” von der Leyen said in Brussels shortly after the deal was announced. “It is time to leave Brexit behind. Our future is made in Europe.

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“We have finally found an agreement. It was a long and winding road but we have got a good deal to show for it.

“It is fair, it is a balanced deal and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, speaking alongside von der Leyen, said: “Today is a day of relief, but tinged by some sadness as we compare what came before with what lies ahead.

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“The clock is no longer ticking, after four years of collective effort and EU unity to preserve peace and stability on the island of Ireland, to protect the citizens and the single market, and to build a new partnership with the UK.”

The deal comes more than four years after a slim majority of Britons voted to quit the bloc in a June 2016 referendum on EU membership

The agreement document is said to be about 2,000 pages long. In essence, it is a narrow free trade pact surrounded with other agreements on a range of issues including energy, transport and police and security cooperation.

What next?

Both sides now have just days to get the pact ratified before January 1.

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The UK Parliament, in which Johnson’s governing Conservative Party has a strong majority, is expected to sign off on the deal before December 31, when the Brexit transition period ends.

Johnson said he hoped the agreement would be put to MPs for a vote next week, on December 30.

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But things are more complicated on the EU side, with the leaders of its 27 member states required to approve of any agreement before it can then be sent to the European Parliament for its consent – a challenge made more difficult by the Christmas holiday period and amid a worsening coronavirus crisis.

EU law does, however, include a provision for agreements to be provisionally approved by its 27 member states, without its parliament’s consent.

European Parliament President David Sassoli on Thursday confirmed the institution will analyse the deal “in detail” before deciding whether to give its consent in the new year.

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“We will act responsibly in order to minimise disruption to citizens and prevent the chaos of a no-deal scenario,” Sassoli said on Twitter.

European Union ambassadors will meanwhile meet at 10:30am CET (09:30 GMT) on Friday, Christmas Day, to begin reviewing the post-Brexit trade deal clinched on Thursday by the EU and Britain, an EU spokesman said.

“The German EU Council Presidency has just convened a COREPER meeting for tomorrow 10.30am. EU Ambassadors will start reviewing the EU-UK agreement,” an EU spokesman for Germany, which holds the bloc’s rotating presidency, said on Twitter. COREPER is the name given to meetings of EU envoys.

News of a deal has meanwhile brought a sense of relief for many in the UK and across Europe.

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Had the UK and the EU failed to compromise, a no-deal Brexit scenario would have forced them to default to trading under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules from January 1.

WTO rules would have brought financial tariffs, quotas and other regulatory barriers to trade into play.

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#Newsworthy

EndSARs: UK parliament react to protesters petition to FG

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The Foreign Secretary issued a statement on 21 October calling for an end to the violence and for the Nigerian Government to urgently investigate reports of brutality by its security forces and hold those responsible to account.

UK Government and Parliament, Thursday responded to the #ENDSARS petition by some Nigerians against the Federal government.

With about 219,702 signatures, the petition seeks to implement sanctions against the Nigerian Government and officials, over abuse of power by the operatives of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, and the alleged shooting at protestors calling for SARS disbandment.

Reacting, UK said it awaits the outcome of Nigerian investigations into reports of police brutality, noting that it would not publicly speculate on future sanctions designations.

Read the full response below:

“The UK Government is deeply concerned by violence during recent protests in Nigeria, which tragically claimed lives. Our thoughts are with the families of all those affected.

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The Minister for Africa tweeted on 16 October, noting the Nigerian people’s democratic and peaceful calls for reforms, and again on 21 October, encouraging the Nigerian authorities to restore peace and address concerns over brutality towards civilians. He reiterated these messages when he spoke to Foreign Minister Onyeama on 23 October. The British High Commissioner in Abuja has also raised the protests with representatives of the Nigerian Government and will continue to do so.

We welcome President Buhari’s decision to disband the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and the establishment of judicial panels of inquiry to investigate alleged incidents of brutality by the security services. They must investigate all incidents, including in Lagos, fully. The Minister for Africa tweeted on 29 October stressing the importance of the police and military’s cooperation with the panels. He raised this, and the need for the panels to urgently start investigations, when he spoke to the Governor of Lagos on 11 November.

The UK Government will continue to work with the Nigerian Government and international and civil society partners to support justice, accountability and a more responsive policing model in Nigeria. We will continue to push for the Nigerian security services to uphold human rights and the rule of law, investigate all incidents of brutality, illegal detentions and use of excessive force, and hold those responsible to account.

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On 6 July, the Government established the Global Human Rights sanctions regime by laying regulations in Parliament under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. In a statement to Parliament, the Foreign Secretary set out in full the scope of the UK’s new Global Human Rights sanctions regime. He announced the first tranche of designations, as well as the Government’s approach to future designations.

This sanctions regime will give the UK a powerful new tool to hold to account those involved in serious human rights violations or abuses. The sanctions regime is not intended to target individual countries. It will allow for sanctions to be imposed on individuals and entities involved in serious human rights violations or abuses around the world.

We will continue to consider potential designations under the Global Human Rights sanctions regime. It is longstanding practice not to speculate on future sanctions designations as to do so could reduce the impact of the designations.

The UK Government will keep all evidence and potential listings under close review.”


#Newsworthy…

Meghan Markle, Harry repay taxpayers in United kingdom.

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The repayment comes as Harry and Meghan seek to forge new careers for themselves and attain financial independence.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have refunded British taxpayers 2.4 million pounds ($3.2m), the cost of renovating their United Kingdom home, in line with a commitment they made after announcing in January they would step back from royal duties.

The refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, a house within the grounds of Queen Elizabeth’s Windsor Castle west of London, had been criticised by some British media as too expensive.

The repayment comes as Harry and Meghan, an American former actress, seek to forge new careers for themselves and attain greater financial independence. They announced last week they had signed a contract with Netflix to produce content for the streaming platform.

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Officially known as the duke and duchess of Sussex, the couple has moved to California but will keep Frogmore Cottage as their home when they come back to the UK, under the terms of their agreement with the queen, Harry’s grandmother.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the duke and duchess of Sussex, plant flowers and forget-me-nots during a visit to the Assistance League Los Angeles’s Preschool Learning Center in Los Angeles, California, United States [File: Matt Sayles/Reuters]

“A contribution has been made to the Sovereign Grant by The Duke of Sussex,” a spokesperson for the couple said, referring to a pot of taxpayer money used to fund the monarchy.

“This contribution as originally offered by Prince Harry has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, a property of Her Majesty The Queen, and will remain the UK residence of The Duke and his family.”

The terms of Harry and Meghan’s contract with Netflix have not been disclosed. Prior to that, the bulk of their income was coming from the private estate of Prince Charles, Harry’s father and the heir to the British throne.


#Newsworthy…

EU-UK ‘free market’ pressure mount ahead fresh brexit talks.

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EU’s chief negotiator ‘worried’ as UK reportedly plans new law to override key parts of Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Brexit trade talks have plunged into crisis on the eve of a penultimate round of negotiations in London, after the United Kingdom warned the European Union that it could effectively override the divorce deal it signed unless the bloc agrees to a free trade deal by October 15.

Tensions mounted on Monday, with chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier saying he was “worried” about negotiations, and that he will seek clarification from London about plans to renege on commitments.

The UK is reportedly planning new legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – a step that, if implemented, could jeopardise a treaty signed in January and stoke tension in Northern Ireland.

Sections of the internal market bill, due to be published on Wednesday, are expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs, the Financial Times newspaper said on Monday, citing three people familiar with the plans.

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If no deal is agreed, both sides should “accept that and move on”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say later on Monday. In this scenario, the UK would have a trading relationship with the bloc like Australia’s, which would be “a good outcome”, Johnson will say.

Johnson will also say there is no sense in thinking about timelines beyond October 15.

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” he will say.

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As the prospect of a no-deal Brexit loomed, sterling fell against the dollar and euro.

The UK left the EU on January 31, but talks aimed at clinching a new trade deal before the end of a status-quo transition arrangement in December have so far snagged on state aid rules and fishing.

The UK is reportedly planning new legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement [File: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

Without a deal, nearly $1 trillion in trade between the UK and the EU could be thrown into uncertainty, including rules over everything from car parts and medicines to fruit and data.

European concern over UK’s reported plan
The reported plan to undermine the Withdrawal Agreement was condemned by parties on both sides of the Irish border and surprised some in Brussels.

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“If the UK chose not to respect its international obligations, it would undermine its international standing,” said one EU diplomat.

“Who would want to agree trade deals with a country that doesn’t implement international treaties? It would be a desperate and ultimately self-defeating strategy,” the diplomat said.

“Without correct implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, I cannot imagine the EU would conclude a treaty with a country that does not abide by its treaty commitments,” said another EU diplomat.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who played a key role in negotiating the withdrawal agreement and Northern Ireland protocol, said on Twitter that the reported move “would be a very unwise way to proceed”.

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Senior members of Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein and SDLP parties, the region’s two largest Irish nationalist groups, also criticised the UK’s reported plan.

Asked about the report in the Financial Times, British Environment Secretary George Eustice said there might be some minor “legal ambiguities” that needed to be tidied up over the Northern Irish protocol.

“We are not moving the goal posts,” he told Sky News broadcaster.

Barnier said everything that has been signed “must be respected”, as he planned to discuss the FT report with his British counterpart David Frost during this week’s talks.

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“The important thing for me is what the prime minister says and does, and what the British government itself says and does,” he said.

Regarding Northern Ireland, Barnier insisted that under the withdrawal deal it will continue to apply the EU’s single market rules, intended to avoid a “hard border” with Ireland but which would effectively create a trade border in the Irish Sea.

The move is meant to avoid reviving sectarian tensions between Ireland and Northern Ireland that were largely calmed by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

“No land border is the pre-requisite for peace since the end of the conflict … and it’s the pre-requisite for a united and coherent economy for the entire island, and also to respect the single market,” Barnier said.


#Newsworthy…

United kingdom sets deadline for ‘Free Trade’ deal with EU.

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Post-Brexit trade talks have stalled over the UK’s push for autonomy over state aid and fishing rights.

The United Kingdom has set a deadline of October 15 to strike a free-trade deal with the European Union, and if none is agreed, both sides should “accept that and move on”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say on Monday.

The UK left the EU on January 31, but there has been little progress on a new trade deal after a status-quo transition arrangement ends in December. Failure to reach a deal could result in the imposition of trade tariffs and customs controls for goods moving between the UK and EU.

Talks, which have stalled over the UK’s insistence that it has full autonomy over state aid and fishing, are due to resume in London on Tuesday.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said an agreement on trade needed to be reached urgently and he blamed the stalemate on the UK’s attitude.

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Johnson will say there is no sense in thinking about timelines beyond October 15.

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” he will say, according to comments released by his office.

If no deal is agreed, the UK would have a trading relationship with the bloc like Australia’s, which would be “a good outcome”, Johnson will say.

The EU has been negotiating a trade agreement with Australia since 2018 but has yet to conclude a deal.

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‘Full control’
“As a government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it,” Johnson will say. “We will have full control over our laws, our rules and our fishing waters.”

The United Kingdom’s government is preparing legislation that could undermine a potential free trade agreement with the European Union, according to the Financial Times [File: Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

In that case, the UK would be ready to find sensible accommodation with the bloc on practical issues such as flights, lorry transport or scientific cooperation, according to the excerpts.

The Financial Times newspaper reported that the British government is planning legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, risking the collapse of trade negotiations with Brussels.

Sections of the internal market bill, due to be published on Wednesday, are expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs, the newspaper said, citing three people familiar with the plans.

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A source told the newspaper that the move could “clearly and consciously” undermine the agreement on Northern Ireland – a part of the UK – that Johnson signed last October to avoid a return to a hard border with the neighbouring Republic of Ireland.

The UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost said on Sunday that the British government was not scared of a no-deal exit at the end of the year.

Johnson will say there is still a deal to be had based on a standard free trade agreement if the EU is ready to rethink its current position.

“But we cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it,” he will say.


#Newsworthy…

Birmingham stabbing: One lose to death – Police.

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Police said a murder inquiry had been launched but there was no suggestion that this was a ‘terror-related’ attack.

One man was killed and two people critically injured during a “random” stabbing attack in Britain’s second city of Birmingham, West Midlands Police said on Sunday.

Chief Superintendent Steve Graham said a murder inquiry had been launched but there was “no suggestion at all that this was terror-related.

“It does appear to be a random attack,” he added.

Police had earlier said there was a “major incident” after reports surfaced of a number of people injured in stabbings early on Sunday.

“We can confirm that at approximately 12:30am today [Sunday], we were called to reports of a stabbing in Birmingham city centre,” police said in a statement.

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“A number of other stabbings were reported in the area shortly after and “this has been declared a major incident”, the statement added.

Footage aired on British television news channels showed large areas of the city centre cordoned off as police officers wearing forensic suits worked at the scene.

Noble Reporters Media said the incidents occurred near the area known as the Gay Village in the centre of Birmingham, where many people had been seated at outdoor tables eating and drinking.

“Work is still going on to establish what has happened, and could take some time before we are in a position to confirm anything,” West Midlands Police said earlier on Sunday.

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“At this early stage, it would not be appropriate to speculate on the causes of the incident.”

West Midlands Police say it is too early to speculate on the causes of the incident [Phil Noble/Reuters]

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was “a very serious incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

He said he had no information suggesting the stabbings were related to terrorism.

Emergency services were at the scene to ensure the injured received medical care. Police said the response would continue “for some time” and urged people to stay away from the area.

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Cara Curran, a club promoter, said she saw multiple people fighting in the street.

“It was one group of boys against another group of boys,” she told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media, adding that “racial slurs” were being thrown.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the series of incidents in the Hurst Street area of the city centre appeared to be related but the motivation for them was not yet understood.

He urged people “to not speculate about the incident” and to “remain calm but vigilant.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Over 10% of shops in Britain ‘remain vacant’

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The UK’s retailers were struggling with high rents and online competition even before coronavirus lockdowns struck.


More than one-in-ten British shops now stand empty, reflecting recent widespread closures which are partly the result of the coronavirus crisis, a report on Thursday showed.

Researcher Springboard said the vacancy rate rose to 10.8 percent in July, from 9.8 percent in January 2020, reaching its highest level since January 2014 as Britain’s store-based retail sector, outside of food, was hit by a lockdown to counter the pandemic.

Already weak players such as Laura Ashley, Debenhams, Oasis Warehouse, Cath Kidston and Monsoon/Accessorize have all gone into administration, with the loss of thousands of jobs, while other large retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Boots and John Lewis, are also closing stores.

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Britain’s store groups were already struggling with high rents and business taxes, tight margins and online competition before the pandemic took a grip on the country’s economy.

Springboard said vacancies rose in six out of 10 areas, but by far the greatest increase was in Greater London, where the vacancy rate rose by nearly two-thirds.

“This result brings into sharp focus the difficulties faced by large cities in attracting customers back and the impact of this on our bricks and mortar retail landscape,” Springboard director Diane Wehrle said in a statement.

Springboard said that although shopper numbers improved in August for the third consecutive month, they were still down 30.8 percent from the same period in 2019.


#Newsworthy…


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle team up with Netflix Inc.

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Under the deal, whose value was not disclosed, the couple will produce content on issues that resonate with them.


The United Kingdom’s Prince Harry and his American-born wife Meghan have signed an exclusive multiyear production deal with Netflix Inc, a major step in their plan to make a living for themselves outside the royal family.

Under the deal, whose value was not disclosed, the couple will produce films and series ranging from children’s shows to scripted content, the streaming platform said on Wednesday.

The couple moved to Southern California with their infant son Archie this year after stepping back from royal duties in January and announcing plans to be more financially independent.

They said they will produce content on issues that resonate with them and that their nonprofit Archewell is focused on.

“Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope,” the couple said in a statement on Wednesday. “As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us.”

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Meghan, a former star of the USA Network television show, Suits, has no plans to return to acting under the deal.

The couple has no previous experience as producers, but Netflix said they already have several projects in development, including a nature documentary series and an animated series that celebrates inspiring women. They said they plan to highlight diversity in front of and behind the camera.

“We’re incredibly proud they have chosen Netflix as their creative home,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.

The UK’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive at the Endeavour Fund Awards in London, UK in March [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]

The Netflix deal follows a similar pact in 2018 with former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

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NRM said Harry and Meghan had been speaking with other Hollywood companies, including Walt Disney Co and Apple Inc. Variety reported earlier this month that they had met with Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal.

Netflix last month released, Rising Phoenix, a documentary about the Paralympic Games, in which Harry, who founded the Invictus Games for wounded veterans, makes a brief appearance.

Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth, had previously teamed up with the Apple TV+ streaming service to make a documentary with Oprah Winfrey about mental health.

The documentary, which was in the works before the couple stepped back from their royal duties, has yet to be aired.

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In June, the couple signed with the Harry Walker Agency in New York, which serves as an agent for lectures by clients such as former US Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as Oprah Winfrey.

Harry and Meghan are expected to speak together and individually on issues such as racial justice, gender equity, the environment, and mental health.

The couple recently bought a mansion in the celebrity enclave of Montecito, north of Los Angeles, which is more sheltered from media attention.

Since arriving in California in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, they have undertaken some low-profile charity work, handing out supplies to families in need.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, REUTERS NEWS AGENCY


#Newsworthy…

Just in: Protest full London over increasing ‘Racism’ #BLM

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Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters marched through the streets of London, blocking traffic outside Notting Hill tube station and lying down in the road staging die-in.

The “Million People March” is advocating against racial injustice and is taking place instead of this year’s Notting Hill carnival.

Organisers have said the event is more important than ever amid the worldwide campaign for justice after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis.

Naomi Bennett, protester and nurse spoke to the press;

“I’ve known about deaths in custody of black people, from when I was, from back in the 90s. We’ve been protesting all these years. Fortunately the George Floyd (death), has just highlighted that to the rest of the world. Now this is a fight that is not new to black people in this country.”

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Aside from highlighting racial injustice in the UK, organisers said the march was also to denounce forthcoming government spending on prisons.

The “Million People March” was held in place of the annual Notting Hill Carnival, which will be streamed online this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street fair, tracing its roots to the late 1950s.

The Million People March comes the day after thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London to protest against lockdown restrictions and the wearing of face masks.


#Newsworthy…

As school resumes: Britain reverse face mask policy.

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The government has reversed policy on wearing facemasks in schools in England, sparking fresh criticism about its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ministers had insisted face coverings were not necessary when children go back to school from next week after nearly six months out of the classroom amid concern about a rise in infections.

But in new guidance late Tuesday, the British government advised that secondary school students and staff should wear face coverings in corridors and communal areas.

The change is being seen as another U-turn, just weeks after ministers were forced to scrap the use of an algorithm which gave 17- and 18-year-olds lower-than-expected exam grades.

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Teaching unions have been calling for English schools to follow guidance in Scotland, which has a separate education system, that requires pupils to cover their nose and mouth between lessons.

But while welcoming the change, critics including the main opposition Labour party said ministers had shirked their responsibility by leaving enforcement to individual schools.

Labour’s education spokeswoman Kate Green slammed a “half-baked U-turn”. “The government should have given clear guidance and a plan to deliver it,” she said.

Under-fire Education Secretary Gavin Williamson had insisted masks were not required in schools and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said there was no plan to review the policy.

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But Williamson, widely blamed for the furore over exam results, on Wednesday said the government would now follow World Health Organization advice for children aged 12 and over to wear masks.

“Outside of local lockdown areas face coverings won’t be required in schools, though schools will have the flexibility to introduce measures if they believe it is right in their specific circumstances,” he said on Wednesday.

In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020. A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP.

“I hope these steps will provide parents, pupils and teachers with further reassurance.”

Some 41,500 people have died in the coronavirus outbreak in Britain — the worst death toll in Europe — and the government response to the pandemic has been criticised.

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Ministers were accused of not reacting quickly enough, failing to ensure enough protective equipment for frontline health and social care workers, and over the testing regime.

London reversed policy on the wearing of facemasks in shops in England after initially saying they were not necessary, and was forced to backtrack on a planned reopening of primary schools in July.

Education is a devolved issue for regional governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Older students in Northern Ireland will be asked to wear face coverings outside classrooms from next week. The Welsh Assembly in Cardiff is due to make its decision on Wednesday.


#Newsworthy…

Britain moves into recession as Economy shrinks.

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Britain’s economy contracted by a record 20.4 percent in the second quarter with the country in lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed Wednesday.

“It is clear that the UK is in the largest recession on record,” the Office for National Statistics said.

… more to come


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Boris Johnson pronounces ‘Boris Bikes’ all over Britain.

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The British government promised Monday to build thousands of miles of new bike lanes to get people moving and healthy after months of coronavirus lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge comes on the heels of a plan to force restaurants to display calories on menus as part of a broader effort to win the battle of the bulge.

Government data show two-thirds of UK adults are above a healthy weight. Some studies suggests that the virus is especially deadly to people who are obese.

“To build a healthier, more active nation, we need the right infrastructure, training and support in place to give people the confidence to travel on two wheels,” Johnson said.

Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s plan envisions more Briton’s biking and walking to work in the long term. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)

“That’s why now is the time to shift gears and press ahead with our biggest and boldest plans yet to boost active travel — so that everyone can feel the transformative benefits of cycling.”

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Johnson introduced a bike sharing programme in London during his spell as the British capital’s mayor from 2008 to 2016.

But the so-called “Boris bikes” stood largely untouched during a months-long lockdown that still sees swathes of central London stand empty during working hours.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, talks to the owner of the Cycle Lounge, Rodney Rouse, a bicycle repair shop in Beeston, central England, on July 28, 2020, during an event to launch the government’s new cycling intuitive to help get people, fitter. – (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)

The government’s efforts to tease people out of lockdown and into their old spending habits that can give shops and restaurants a boost are complicated by Britain’s inability to safely reopen its schools.

Polls show people are also worried about using public transport. Many trains and buses are running half-empty during morning and evening commutes.

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Johnson’s plan envisions more Briton’s biking and walking to work in the long term.

It promises to build “thousands of miles of protected cycle routes in towns and cities” as part of a £2 billion ($2.6 billion, 2.2 billion euro) “cycling and walking revolution”.

The government has also promised to start releasing the first batch of £50 “bike repair vouchers” to help people get old cycles fixed.

The British government promised Monday to build thousands of miles of new bike lanes to get people moving and healthy after months of coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)

Britain’s official virus death toll of 45,759 is the highest in Europe.


#Newsworthy…

Twitter burns over rapper’s anti-Semitic posts in UK

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Twitter on Monday faced a temporary boycott by some critics in Britain and a backlash from the government over its handling of a series of anti-Semitic posts by a high-profile rapper.

The social media giant, along with photo sharing site Instagram, on Friday banned grime artist Wiley from their platforms for seven days after he posted messages described as “abhorrent” by interior minister Priti Patel.

But some see the punishments as too soft and that the US companies took too long to remove the messages, prompting politicians, celebrities and other high-profile figures to launch a 48-hour Twitter boycott from Monday.

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Patel has written to the firms asking why some of Wiley’s posts were visible for more than 12 hours before being removed, and the government has said it expects a full response.

“The message is clear: Twitter needs to do better on this,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman told reporters on Monday.

“Social media companies need to go much further and faster in removing hateful content such as this.”

Police are now investigating the comments made on the Instagram and Twitter accounts of Wiley, who is considered a pioneer of the UK’s popular grime music scene.

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Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on Monday accused the two platforms of lacking “responsible leadership” in their response to the posts.

“This cannot be allowed to stand. Your inaction amounts to complicity,” he said in letters sent to the heads of both firms.

Lisa Nandy, the main opposition Labour Party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, businessman Alan Sugar and television presenter Rachel Riley were among those to join the two-day boycott of Twitter.

Johnson’s spokesman said he would continue to use the site for “important public health messages”.


#Newsworthy…

UK back Spain’s removal from travel border

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The British government on Sunday defended its decision to impose an immediate requirement for passengers arriving from Spain to self-isolate amid a resurgence of coronavirus in the popular holiday destination.

The new rules took hold at midnight Saturday, hours after being announced, causing uncertainty for holidaymakers and leading to criticism from travel industry leaders.

“I think it’s quite poor that they did it so instantaneously,” Philip Bradby, 55, told the domestic Press Association after returning early to Britain from Barcelona.

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But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government was required to take “swift” action.

“The data we got was on Friday, it showed a big jump right across mainland Spain. That was then assessed yesterday afternoon and we took the decision as swiftly as we could,” Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme.

“We can’t make apologies for doing so,” he added.

“I understand it is disruptive for those going through this …but we must though be able to take swift, decisive action.”

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Passengers arriving in Britain will have to self-isolate for two weeks following the surge in cases.

“The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data,” said a British government spokesman.

“As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.”

Britain is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, but that does not apply to the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands.

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Barely a month after Spain ended its months-long state of emergency, new infections have been rising.

Transport minister Grant Shapps was caught in the ruling as he is currently in Spain for his summer break.

Labour called the decision “frankly shambolic”, with shadow health minister Jonathan Ashworth saying holidaymakers had been left “confused and distressed”.

Tui, Britain’s biggest tour operator, said the government should have given them “more notice of this announcement”.


#Newsworthy…

Boris Johnson shun call for fresh scottish independence vote

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday rejected calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence, despite an apparent surge in support for a breakaway.

Scots voted to maintain the status quo by 55 percent to 45 percent in 2014, in what even the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) agreed was a “once-in-a-generation” vote.

But spurred by tensions between London and Edinburgh over Britain’s departure from the European Union, and political and personal differences, the issue refuses to go away.

Polling now suggests a majority of Scots are in favour of going it alone, and breaking up the more than three-centuries-old union with England.

Conservative party leader Johnson, however, reaffirmed that the UK parliament would not approve powers for the Scottish Parliament to hold a new vote.

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“The union is a fantastically strong institution. It has helped us through thick and thin,” he said on a visit to Orkney, off Scotland’s far northeast coast.

“We had a referendum on breaking up the union… only six years ago. That is not a generation by any computation.

“What people really want to do is to see our whole country coming back stronger, together, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The coronavirus outbreak, which has led to more than 45,000 deaths across the country, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s more cautious approach have fuelled the debate.

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Majority for independence
Earlier this month, polling group Panelbase said a record 54 percent of Scots were in favour of independence. An average of polls in the last six months put support on 51 percent.

Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Johnson’s decision was ‘outrageous’ Photo: Getty Images

SNP leader Sturgeon’s approval ratings soared to 60 percent — well above that for Johnson, who has been accused of not acting fast enough to curb the spread of the virus.

Sturgeon and Johnson were not scheduled to meet but she said his visit, which included a stop to talk to crab fishermen, underscored the need for independence.

“One of the key arguments for independence is the ability of Scotland to take our own decisions, rather than having our future decided by politicians we didn’t vote for, taking us down a path that we haven’t chosen,” she tweeted.

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The main thrust of Sturgeon’s push for a new vote is that a majority of Scots did not vote for Brexit, which changed the fundamental nature of the relationship with England.

But Johnson said the strength of the union, which dates from 1707, had been shown to be effective in the coronavirus response.

The issue is unlikely to go away, with warnings of dire economic consequences both from the coronavirus shutdown and Brexit if no trade deal can be agreed with the EU.

The SNP strengthened its position in Scotland in last December’s general election, and is expected to cement its majority in the Scottish Parliament at elections in May.


#Newsworthy…

UK’s citizenship plan to Hong Kong pisses China

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China accuses Britain of interference as UK gov’t lays out path to citizenship for three million Hong Kong people.


The United Kingdom has unveiled the details of its plan to offer an estimated three million people in Hong Kong a route to citizenship in an offer Home Secretary Priti Patel described as “very generous” and China condemned as a breach of international law and interference in its internal affairs.

In a briefing paper released on Wednesday, Patel said people with British National (Overseas) or BNO status, a type of nationality created when Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, would be able to apply for the programme from January next year.

They will not have to meet skills tests or minimum income requirements and can bring their dependents, including those who do not have BNO status.

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Patel said BNO status “recognised the special and enduring ties the UK has with those people as a result of our role in Hong Kong before 1997”.

Referring to China’s imposition of a new National Security Law on Hong Kong at the start of the month, she added: “Now that China, through its actions, has changed the circumstances that BN(O) citizens find themselves in, it is right that we change the entitlements which are attached to BN(O) status.”

The paper triggered a swift condemnation from China’s embassy in London, which said the move amounted to interference in China’s internal affairs and that it would demand effective countermeasures.

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“The Chinese side urges the UK side to recognize the fact that Hong Kong is part of China, have a right and objective understanding on the National Security Law for Hong Kong, immediately correct its mistakes and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs,” an embassy spokesperson said in a statement posted on the embassy’s website. “Such interference will shoot itself in the foot.”

‘Unique obligations’
Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 100 years until it was returned to Chinese rule under the so-called “one country, two systems” framework, which afforded the territory substantial autonomy and guaranteeing the people of the territory rights and freedoms unknown on the mainland for at least 50 years.

The UK has said the security law contravenes the promises that were laid out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.

A pro-democracy protester holds BNO passports at a rally against the national security law on June 1 in Hong Kong [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

The policy statement said the changes to migration for people from Hong Kong were a reflection of the “unprecedented circumstances” in the territory, and Britain’s “unique obligations” to those with BN(O) status.

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Those who apply will get a visa for five years, after which, providing they have supported themselves financially and not committed any crimes, they can apply for permanent residence and, after a further year, citizenship. They will not need to meet any income requirements, have a job prior to arrival or seek additional permissions to work or study.

However, they will still have to pay for the visa – the fee has still to be decided – as well as all subsequent applications for settlement and citizenship, and will not be eligible for any social security payments.

The policy statement said it was also open to accepting those needing to travel before January.


#Newsworthy…

United Kingdom suspend Hong Kong’s extradition plan

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab voiced concerns about new national security law and alleged human rights abuses in China.


The United Kingdom suspended its extradition treaty and blocked arms sales with Hong Kong on Monday after China imposed a tough new national security law and was accused of forcibly sterilising ethnic minority women in Xinjiang.

As tensions grow with Beijing, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he had concerns about the new law and alleged human rights abuses in China, particularly the treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority. He described the measures as “reasonable and proportionate”.

“We will protect our vital interests,” Raab said. “We will stand up for our values and we will hold China to its international obligations.”

The UK followed the example of the United States, Australia and Canada by suspending extradition arrangements with the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

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The ban is another nail in the coffin of what then-prime minister David Cameron in 2015 cast as a “golden era” of ties with China, the world’s second-largest economy.

London has been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 from British rule, and the perception that China did not tell the whole truth over the coronavirus outbreak.

Noble Reporters Media learnt that the UK government has offered three responses to China’s new security law, which “has created new crimes and new severe punishments”.

“The first is to offer refuge to up to three million Hong Kong citizens to come live and work in the UK,” Barker said, speaking from London.

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“The second is to extend an arms embargo to mainland China – which has been in place since the late 1980s – to Hong Kong and that includes equipment that Raab said could be used for ‘acts of internal repression’ – which seems to be a veiled criticism of police tactics in Hong Kong against demonstrators.

“The third is to end a 30-year extradition agreement between the UK and Hong Kong, which will be effective immediately.”

Riot police search demonstrators during a rally against a new national security law on the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from the UK to China [File: Billy HC Kwok/Getty Images]

The arms embargo extends a measure in place for China since 1989. It means Britain will allow no exports of potentially lethal weapons, their components or ammunition, as well as equipment that might be used for internal repression such as shackles, firearms and smoke grenades.

The review of the extradition measures comes only days after Britain backtracked on plans to give Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a role in the UK’s new high-speed mobile phone network amid security concerns fuelled by rising tensions between Beijing and Western powers.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has already criticised China’s decision to impose the sweeping national security law on Hong Kong.

The UK accused Beijing of a serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration – under which the UK returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997 – and announced it would open a special route to citizenship for up to three million eligible residents of the community.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab makes a statement on Hong Kong’s national security legislation in London [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]

But Johnson said on Monday he would not “completely abandon our policy of engagement” with Beijing.

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The UK leader said he will not be “pushed into a position of becoming a knee-jerk Sinophobe on every issue, somebody who is automatically anti-China”.

“China is a giant factor of geopolitics, it’s going to be a giant factor in our lives and in the lives of our children and grandchildren. You have got to have a calibrated response and we are going to be tough on some things, but also going to continue to engage,” said Johnson.

China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) on Sunday that Britain was “dancing to the tune” of the United States and rejected the allegations of human rights abuses against the mainly Muslim Uighur people.


#Newsworthy…